Reporter Who Was Assaulted By GOP Congressman Calls Him a Coward

On Friday President Trump called Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) a “tough cookie” because of his assault last year on Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian.

Jacobs, however, has a different opinion of the Montana Congressman. He said that Gianforte’s violent actions actually made him “a coward” instead of “tough.”

“A tough cookie doesn’t attack someone out of nowhere without provocation, for asking a question about health care policy,” Jacobs said on CNN, a day after Trump praised Gianforte for physically accosting him in Montana on the day before a special congressional election in May of 2017.

Jacobs also said Gianforte lied about exactly what happened during their meeting, and only told the truth after he became aware that there were audio recordings and eyewitnesses of their encounter.

The Guardian reported in November 2017 that the congressman had originally maintained that Jacobs was the one who had initiated the contact. This information was in fact reported in a police incident report filed at the time. That claim, however, was later contradicted by several journalists who witnessed the incident and told their stories.

“The police actually asked me afterwards, was there anything about the congressional budget office that might set him off, and then lie about it,” he added. “That’s not the action of a tough cookie, that’s the action of a coward.”

President Trump was in Montana for a rally on Thursday and praised Gianforte as his “kind” of guy. He also said that the physical assault of a journalist probably helped the Republican win the special election and made him more popular with Montana voters.

“Never wrestle him. Never. Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of … he’s my guy,” Trump said . during the rally in Missoula“We endorsed Greg really early, but I heard that he had body-slammed a reporter. And he was way up … and I said, ‘Oh, this is terrible, he’s going to lose the election.’ But then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him,’ and it did.

“He’s a great guy and a tough cookie,” Trump later added.

Trump’s comments have been widely condemned in the media. The U.S. editor of The Guardian strongly criticized the president shortly after his rally remarks became widely reported. He said that “celebrating the attack of a journalist is an attack on the First Amendment.”

At the time of the incident many people believed that it was in fact Trump’s violent rhetoric that motivated Gianforte to take violent action against a reporter.

After the incident, Gianforte pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault in June 2017 and was sentenced to a 180-day deferred sentence, 40 hours of community service, 20 hours of anger management and a $300 fine along with an $85 court fee.

Despite assaulting the reporter he won Montana’s at-large congressional seat by 6 points on May 25, 2017.